Cuyahoga County Jail Deaths Spark Uproar

In 2018, eight inmates died in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Jail. In May 2019, a ninth inmate succumbed. Before 2018, the annual death toll for the past decade at the facility never exceeded two. The causes of the 2018 deaths involved four suicides, three drug overdoses, and one related to cancer.

The cause of death in the case of the 36-year-old inmate dying in May 2019, has not been released, but he was booked into the jail on drug possession charges and was found unresponsive two days after entry.

Inhumane Conditions

In November 2018, U.S. Marshal released a report exposing “inhumane” conditions at the facility. The report cited withholding of food for punishment, lack of access to medical care and severe cell overcrowding, among other issues. An inspection by the Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found non-compliance a whopping 84 state standards, including denial of visitation hours, hygiene product denial and lack of clean linen, among other matters.

A more recent inspection found the jail still non-compliant with 66 standards. The FBI is investigating additional civil rights violations at the Cuyahoga County Jail.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office soon announced a criminal investigation into civil rights violations at the jail. To date, the investigation has resulted in the former jail director, former warden, and seven corrections officers accused of crimes.

These crimes include attacking inmates who were restrained in chairs, and, in one case, ignoring an inmate dying in his cell of a drug overdose. In the latter incident, the former warden is alleged to have ordered corrections’ officers to turn off their body cameras while an investigation into the inmate’s death was performed, so that there was no video evidence available for any proceedings.

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed records relating to the death of another inmate, who hanged himself in his cell and died three days later.

Conditions at the jail are so bad that one municipal court judge in Cleveland announced in October that he would no longer send those charged with low-level crimes to jail to be held on bail, and would release them instead because of safety concerns. The judge told those charged, “You shouldn’t die before we see you in court.”

Abusive Videos Released

However, it turns out the ex-warden was too late when it came to turning off the body cameras, as a video was later released showing correction officers ignoring the inmate dying from the overdose. Other abusive videos also turned up, including one of two corrections officers repeatedly punching a restrained inmate.

The inmate, Terrance Dubose, is seen wheeled into a room, a covering on his mouth, both arms strapped to the chair and a blanket on his lap. One guard begins hitting Dubose while standing next to him, and then another guard comes over and punches Dubose in the face. Both guards have since pleaded not guilty to felonious assault, unlawful restraint, and interference with civil rights.

More State Oversight

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has vowed more state oversight of county and local jails to prevent situations like those at Cuyahoga from occurring. He plans to add staff to the Bureau of Adult Detention, saying that when he took office, the section just did not have enough people in it.

Inmates have the right not to be abused. If you or a loved one has suffered mistreatment in jail or prison, you have legal options and may be entitled to compensation. CALL US at 866.836.4684 or Connect Online to learn how we can help you file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

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